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Former volunteer treasurer admits to taking $43K from Pa. fire company

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Kengra S. Taylor spent the West End Fire Company's funds on vacations, purchases and services at retailers and Harley Davidson dealerships, prosecutors say

Carl Hessler Jr.
The Mercury

NORRISTOWN, Pa. — An Upper Providence woman faces several years of court supervision and has a hefty restitution bill after she admitted to embezzling more than $43,000 from the West End Fire Company in West Pottsgrove while she served as the volunteer treasurer.

Kengra S. Taylor, 48, of the first block of Meadowview Lane in the Mont Clare section of Upper Providence, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to three years of probation after she pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by unlawful taking or disposition in connection with incidents that occurred between April and September 2019.

Judge Wendy G. Rothstein, who accepted a plea agreement in the case, also ordered Taylor to pay a total of $43,137 in restitution in connection with the thefts.

Assistant District Attorney Kelli McGinnis prosecuted the case. Defense lawyer Alexander DeSimone represented Taylor.

With the charges, authorities accused Taylor of using the West End Fire Company's funds to pay personal expenses during 87 transactions totaling $43,137. Taylor, according to prosecutors, spent the stolen funds to pay for vacations, purchases and services at two Harley Davidson dealerships, car rentals, auto loans, and purchases at retail locations including Wine & Spirit stores, Costco and the U.S. Postal Service.

The investigation began in September 2019, when the president and the fire chief of the fire company went to police to report thefts from multiple fire company bank accounts, according to the criminal complaint filed by West Pottsgrove Detective Timothy Roeder. The fire company is located in the 100 block of Rice Street in the Stowe section of the township.

Taylor, who was a member of the all-volunteer fire company and its treasurer, was solely responsible for the oversight of four bank accounts belonging to the fire company, detectives alleged. The investigation determined Taylor had opened an unauthorized credit card account in the name of the fire company, according to court papers.

"Through my investigation, I found multiple purchases were made at various stores using funds from the fire company bank accounts and or credit cards," Roeder wrote in the arrest affidavit. "The fire company had no knowledge the account even existed nor did they approve the application for the account or any of the charges on the account.

" Taylor used the credit card to fund personal vacations, monthly payments on her residence, monthly payments on her personal vehicle and numerous other unauthorized purchases for her own personal gain without approval or knowledge of the fire company," Roeder added.

The purchases included a July 14, 2019, credit card transaction for $553 at the Embassy Suites in Concord, N.C., rent payments totaling $2,357, eight purchases totaling $2,256 at Valley Forge Harley Davidson, and six transactions totaling $1,939 at Castaways RV Resort in Berlin, Md., according to the criminal complaint.

Detectives alleged Taylor transferred funds from the fire company's bank accounts to the credit card account to pay the monthly fees and used additional funds from those accounts, including cash withdrawals, for personal gain.

"This volunteer fire company serving its community was taken advantage of by one of its own members, who they trusted. It's unfortunate, but sadly, not completely uncommon," county District Attorney Kevin R. Steele said at the time of Taylor's arrest in August 2020.

"This theft serves as a reminder that non-profit organizations of any kind—whether it's a fire company or a kids' baseball team—need to have checks on any volunteer treasurer such as having a different volunteer reconcile the bank account each month or requiring two signatures on all checks. It's the only way to be assured the organization's money is safe," Steele added.

Other charges of receiving stolen property, access device fraud and theft by failure to make the required disposition of funds received were dismissed against Taylor as part of the plea agreement.


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